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17 Franciscan Studies 60 (2002) WILLIAM OF MELITONA ON DIVINE BEATITUDE William of Melitona was regent master in theology at the University of Paris, taking over in that capacity in 1248 from Odo Rigaldus who had been named Archbishop of Rouen in March of the same year, before being replaced himself by Bonaventure in 1255.1 Little is known of William’s life. Most notable is the fact that he was part, along with ten other masters of theology, of the commission that condemned the Talmud in 1248,2 and also that he was put in charge by pope Alexander IV in 1256 of supervising, though he actually also took part in, the completion of the Summa theologica of Alexander of Hales along with other friars from the Franciscan Province of France.3 On a more anecdotal note, it also appears, according to the Vitae fratrum ordinis praedicatorum, that William considered the Dominican Guerric of Saint-Quentin a very dear friend of his.4 This information is interesting in view of the persistent belief of both Mendicant orders as developing in isolation from one another. Also, if true, it would show that William’s friendship for Guerric did not prevent him from disagreeing with some of his theological views, which, as we will later see, was indeed the case. Of William’s theological works, only his questions on the Sacraments have been edited.5 But, as V. Doucet has established in his magisterial Prolegomena to Alexander of Hales’ Summa, William is also the author of 24 disputed questions, heavily influenced by Alexander’s ownquaestiones, as well as by Odo Rigaldus,6 and from which he will himself borrow heavily 1 P. Glorieux, “D’Alexandre de Halès à Pierre Auriol. La suite des maîtres franciscainsde Paris au XIIIe siècle”, Archivum Franciscanum Historicum 36 (1933): 268. 2 Chartularium Universitatis Parisiensis, I, edd. H. Denifle-A. Chatelain, (Paris: Delalain, 1889), 209-210. 3 Ibid., 328. 4 “Cum autem de ipsius obitu supra modum doleret (sc. Wilhelmus), quia eum (sc. Guerricum) tenerrime diligebat . . . ”Gerardus de Fracheto O. P., Vitae Fratrum Ordinis Praedicatorum, ed. B. M. Reichert, (Lovanii: Typis E. Charpentier & J. Schoonjans, 1896), 274. 5 Guillelemus de Militona, Quaestiones de sacramentis, edd. C. Piana, O.F.M. (Tract. 1-3) and G. Gál O.F.M. (Tract. 4-6), (Quaracchi: ex Typographia, 1961) (BFSMA, XXII-XXIII). 6 This has been established by Leonardo Sileo with regard to quaestio 15 on theology, Toulouse, Bibl. Mun. 737, f. 70a-73d and Brussels, Bibl. Royale 1548, f. 115b-118b. See Leonardo Sileo, Teoria della scienza teologica (quaestio de scientia theologiae di Odo Rigaldi e altri testi inediti [1230-1250]), (Rome: Pontificium Athenaeum Antonianum, 1984), 60-61. ANTOINE CÔTÉ 18 in the composition of Book IV of the Summa.7 The purpose of the following essay is to examine William’s position in one of his disputed questions, a particularly important one in the context of the times, the question De cognitione Dei (in patria). Though relying in crucial ways on the work of his Franciscan contemporaries, most notably Alexander of Hales, William’s quaestio is decidedly original in its treatment of the question of beatific vision which was at the time of writing, i.e. in the mid 1240s early 1250s, a highly controversial one in the Latin West. The controversy arose from the attempt of theologians to providean acceptable theoretical understanding of the vision of God’s essence in the afterlife. The commonly received view in Western Theology, since the time of Augustine, was that although God was radically other and transcendent, this would not prevent the elect from seeing his actual essence, i.e. from seeing God ‘as he is,’ according to the formulation in the first Letter of John: “ . . . it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as is” (I Jn 3, 2).8 And though this was also nominally the view of most Greek Fathers, their greater insistence on God’s radical unknowability made it difficult to see how to make room for genuine knowledge of God in glory. This difficulty came...


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